Are You Afraid? By Carla Cassidy

Are You Afraid is a standalone novel by the author Carla Cassidy. I’ve had this book in paperback for at least 5 years now in one of my many TBR (to be read) piles, and I picked it at random when I was looking for something new to read.

I don’t read many physical books, most of them are Kindle books loaded into my iPad, however there are times when and iPad just won’t do: when I take a relaxing bath, when I’m in the waiting room of a doctor or dentist waiting for my turn in their office. The paperbacks are small enough to fit in my handbag and quite easy to carry.

Are You Afraid is romantic suspense with some thriller undertones. Jessica (dr. Jesssica Langford) is a psychiatrist who has her radio call-in show at a nearby studio. Her main topic: fear. Her clients and call-ins: people who are experiencing debilitating fear, phobia and pretty much anything that makes them tremble running scared. Her knowledge on the topic: her own past.

As a young girl of age 16 she almost died at the hands of a sadistic rapist and killer called the T&B killer. She was raped, badly hurt, buried alive and left to die. However she escaped her fate and after years of therapy she finally came on top and stronger for it. She does have a small and secret phobia though, the fear of the dark. But otherwise she is great in helping her clients get over their own fears. The T&B killer never got caught and Jessica was his only victim who escaped.

One night during her regular show she receives a call from someone called Cameron who asks her about Jessica’s fear of cemeteries and the dark. This chills Jessica to the bone because the grave where she was buried alive all those years ago did have the name Cameron on it. Later she decides it was just a fluke, a random caller, nothing more. Except more things happen that make her confused, scared and almost paranoid. After some debating with herself, she decides to call the police, but soon realizes that the police can’t do much to help her. Well, except for detective Jake Merridan, who can’t get Jessica out of his mind.

The more things happen around Jessica (she gets nightly anonymous calls, weird gifts left on her porch), the easier it gets for her to accept Jake’s offer to help. Soon Jessica and Jake get entangled in a romantic relationship and the sparks fly quite when the two of them are together.

Jake is currently working a serial killer case, and all the clues point to the fact that his case and Jessica’s stalker case are somehow related. Maybe the stalker knows something about Jessica’s past and wants to exploit that, or just maker her miserable?

The fact that Jessica gets a new client who is secretive about himself and seemingly a stalker as well just complicate things. Is this the stalker who calls her all the time and follows her on the road? There are several red herrings thrown into the pot, and while I figured out the connection between two cases early enough, I wasn’t sure who the killer was until much later.

The story moves along at a fast pace and while there are some pages devoted to the budding romance between Jessica and Jack, it is not overpowering. The action and suspense do take center stage, which I am grateful for.

The characters are nicely fleshed out and Jessica is all too human. Outwards strong, but inwards a terrified girl (who wouldn’t be after what she’s been through?) who needs the help of someone else to believe and protect her.

The writing flows smoothly, it is well done and the author describes the scenes in a way that you feel you’re right there, experiencing Jessica’s terror like your own.

A well crafted romantic thriller, and now that I’ve come familiar Carla Cassidy’s work, Are You Afraid will not be my last book by her.

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